Tag Archive: District 9


“Overkill is underrated” is a line uttered at the opportune moment by Col. John Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) head of The A-Team, this summer’s best (as far as I can tell) nostalgia-inspired adaptation. This line is the perfect explanation and rationale for everything in this immensely entertaining action-comedy.

In fact, one of the best things about this movie is that the vast majority of the lines are said at the right moment and in the perfect way. And they are great lines, with some refreshingly original humor and sight gags.

The A-Team is, of course, first and foremost a summer action flick, the kind that no one cares too terribly much whether it makes a lot of sense as long as things blow up impressively – and they do. But writers Joe Carnahan (who also directs; known for Smokin’ Aces), Brian Bloom (who also stars as one of the bad guys), and Skip Woods provide much more than we would have settled for.

Sure, there are plot holes big enough to fly a helicopter through. And the laws of physics are basically thrown out the window. But then, this is not supposed to be a realistic exposé of covert government ops. The unrealistic stunts are there for a reason, and in this film, that reason is to create all the well-used opportunities for the characters to be themselves. In some ways, the A-Team members as we knew them from the TV series have been turned into cartoonish superheroes capable of phenomenal feats.      Continue reading

Post-Oscars Wrap-up

First and foremost, congrats to all the winners!

Yesterday I wrote that it was unlikely for any film but Avatar to win Best Picture. I’m so glad I was wrong! It was heartening to see that the Academy’s voters considered commercial success (which Avatar continues to enjoy in abundance) separately from what makes a great, award-worthy film.

The Hurt Locker Cleans Up

Who would have thunk it? Avatar and The Hurt Locker both went into the show with nine nominations, and The Hurt Locker walked away with six Oscars, while the highest-grossing movie in history, Avatar, only received three.  Everyone was blown away as the excellent but “small” film The Hurt Locker ended up top dog. Kathryn Bigelow received the best director Oscar, Mark Boal got the award for original screenplay, and the film snagged film editing, sound editing, and sound mixing.

No one turned a camera on the former King of the World (James Cameron) so we could see his reaction as his ex-wife and talented better half gave an acceptance speech that focused on supporting our troops and others in uniform rather than on herself.  *big smile*

Disappointments

Well, Sandra Bullock did end up with the best actress award. As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of hers and love watching her silly movies. But I completely disagree that her performance was better than those of her fellow nominees. She probably said it best in her speech when she joked, “… did I just wear you down?” That must have been it.  But congratulations anyway, Sandy, and enjoy the ride.

Even more maddening was that chunk-o-rama Up winning best animated feature. Besides the way the characters are drawn, none of them is truly likeable. It’s a mystery to me why this film was so praised, and all I can think of is that it had the best PR somehow.  No idea.  I’m stumped here.

My biggest disappointment by far, though, is that District 9, one of my favorite movies of the year, won nothing at all. Hey, at least this off-the-beaten-path film was recognized by several nominations … and I have a DVD copy I can watch anytime!

On with the Show

To my surprise and chagrin, the hosting team of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin was not as funny as I’d hoped.  There were moments when they made me laugh out loud, but fewer than I’d anticipated. 

The other weird turn on the show was Tom Hanks coming out at the end to announce, rather abruptly and without further fanfare, that the best picture winner was The Hurt Locker.  The show was a bit over on time, as it typically is, but it just seemed strangely hurried to me.

What was marvelous was Neil Patrick Harris’s opening number!  Now, that’s entertianment! And, as a friend wrote to me, who knew he could sing and dance like that?  Otherwise, pretty boring and uneventful ceremony.  Come on, people … at least make it fun to watch.

Over and out!

Z

And the Winner Is…

It’s Academy Awards day.  Guess you know what this movie freak will be watching this evening. 

Stephen King, in his Entertainment Weekly column, made the excellent point that it’s the films we movie-lovers like to watch, not the goofy award shows—and I agree.  But for me, the spectacle of the Oscars has been a long-time institution connected to the film industry, and for good or ill, decisions made here about the year’s best influence upcoming projects, careers, and theater runs for months and years to come. So, like King, I’ll be watching with some snacks on tap, and I won’t be falling asleep before the end!

Everyone and his second cousin makes Oscar-winner predictions, so it feels rather silly to add to that melee, but I promised I would chime in, even though I have waited until the last minute to do so.  I don’t really want to predict as much as offer a few comments and some sincere hopes—most of which are not news to those who have talked to me over the past couple of months.

Best Picture

The commercial favorite is, of course, Avatar, and I do think chances are very good that this entertaining and technically advanced film will win.  I won’t be heartbroken (or surprised) if it does win, as it is wildly entertaining and groundbreaking in some ways for its effects.  However, it doesn’t have the depth of story that I’d like to see triumph.  What does? My personal favorite is District 9 for overall storyline and performances plus its genius combination of genres, and eye-popping action and effects on a small budget. People have argued that it won’t win because it’s a science-fiction movie … so, what is Avatar?

I’d also be quite pleased if The Hurt Locker took home the Best Picture statuette. It is deserving for its amazing performances, flawless pacing, fantastic cinematography, and more. The subject matter may be a bit narrow for the top prize, though many are hoping that if the film can’t take Best Picture, Kathryn Bigelow will snag Best Director (I’d love for that to happen especially if Avatar gets Best Pic!).

I’ve watched all three of these movies twice now, and I can say unequivocally that one of them should win. Any other choice from the ridiculous ten-strong category will be a travesty.

Actors

Unfortunately, I have not seen some of the films that feature the Best Actor nominees, so I’m all good with frontrunner Jeff Bridges winning.  I also haven’t seen some of the Best Actress performances, but I pray and hope that a serious actor like Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep takes it.  I like Sandra Bullock, especially in fun movies, but she is just not of the same caliber as many of the nominees. Neither are the films in which she appears, including this year’s The Blind Side. I’ve always said I’m no film snob, but I’m feeling like a bit of one in this case. Nonetheless, I will be sorely disappointed if the Razzies winner (or rather, loser) also takes home and Oscar.

Other Categories

There are not many categories this year that I feel very strongly about, so it will just be fun to watch who and what wins. There’s one exception, though.  For Animated Feature, I’m fervently hoping that Up, which I failed to see why everyone liked so much, doesn’t win.  My favorite of those animated films I’ve seen is Coraline (hooray, Neil Gaiman!), but I fear it may be too dark to prevail in its category.

Well, that’s it for me. Everyone have fun at your Oscar parties, or watching in the comfort of your easy chair, of ignoring the festivities altogether.  I’ll be back in a day or two with some reflections after the fact.

Cheers!

Time for a poll!

The Oscar nomination lists are out.  This year’s field of Best Picture nominees has increased from the traditional five to a whopping ten.

Really? Hmm …

Were there actually ten films worthy of Academy Award best-pic nominations in the past year?  Is my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, or am I serious?   (No, that’s not the poll question.)

Pretend you are a member of AMPAS and have just one vote to cast among these contenders.  There is no bribery or any other shenanigan involved.  What’s your pick?

Yes, my opinionated fellow movie watchers, there will be more polls, and you will get to sound off about award-worthy directors, writers, actors, and more.  Stay tuned, and have fun catching up on your movie-watching before Oscar Night, March 7.

Mood:  jaded yet hopeful

P.S.  Inglourious Basterds is spelled correctly.  Other things might not be.

Summer Blues

I spend most of each winter wishing it was warm. Be careful what you wish for, I guess, because I have spent much of the last few months wishing this summer back to the cornfield. Irony is perverse.

What a Georgia summer it’s been: when it’s not raining, it’s 95 degrees with 105 percent humidity. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few with a pool, pleasant days to spend time outdoors have been rare. I haven’t even uncovered my patio furniture. (Come to think of it, of the last few summers here, the majority have pretty much sucked raw eggs.)

I guess that makes it easier to be inside, chained to the computer, which is where I’m usually to be found. But it makes me sad…and I’m pale, for crying out loud! I hate being pale.

*pout*

Few summer distractions have mitigated the pall. July 4th was a notable exception, when I spent time with friends at a BBQ and fireworks extravaganza. Last month, a day at a friend’s pool, topped off by the best steak I’ve had in years, was a slice of paradise. And then there was last weekend, which was a fabulous trip to see high school friends and former coworkers in Milwaukee—what a wonderful excursion filled with reminiscing, catching up, and exploring a delightfully vital city that people seldom visit just to see (pity…Milwaukee has a great deal to offer).

“I’m going to write about this weekend.”

“What were you going to write about before?”

“Last weekend.”

(The Big Chill)

Other than that, blah.

“But summer,” you say, “is the season of movie blockbusters! What a great time to be you, Movie Freak!” Well, this summer’s movies have been quite a letdown. Let’s review.

Terminator Salvation is a complete bust. Let’s not even talk about it.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine has claws but no teeth. It didn’t blow my socks off, even though I’m a big fan of both X-Men and Hugh Jackman.

Transformers 2 …oops, didn’t see it. Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to watch that Fox woman for two hours. Guess I’ll catch it on video. [Later addition: Saw it; fun but a bit dizzying; yup, could have done without that Fox chick.]

I enjoyed Public Enemies, which is a well-made film and features Johnny Depp (nearly always a sure thing), but let’s face it…this cleverly understated film doesn’t really rank among the blockbuster hopefuls.

All the crazy action films and big productions get thrown at us in the dog days of summer, when it’s easier to sit in an ice box with other overheated movie-watchers (wishing we’d brought a sweatshirt) than to spend the dough to cool the house a bit more. And I think the studios count on that and chuck a bunch of explosions and CGI into a bag, shake it up, and present their cocktail as the next coming. It’s sad. Where are the intriguing characters? Where is the tongue-in-cheek roller-coaster ride? Where are today’s Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws?star-trek-2009-bir

Star Trek came closest this summer to capturing that magic I miss. It’s a pretty well-crafted homage to the original series, souped up with modern effects, a passable plot, and creditable performances. It’s not perfect, and there’s some schlock, but the action and effects are riveting and the humor flows from obvious affection for and understanding of Rodenberry‘s original characters.

So, it seems, this summer has become one big nostalgia spree.  I must be getting old.

*gasp*

I’m looking forward to seeing District 9, a late summer entry, which looks smart and is receiving good press. Perhaps it can redeem this summer of lost blockbuster-less souls. (Or, is that soulless blockbusters?)  [Later addition: This is an AWESOME film!  I appreciate it on so many levels.  As I mentioned in a thread elsewhere, it’s like a mix of Independence Day, The Fly, and Blood Diamond.  If you haven’t already, SEE IT.]

For once, I am also looking forward to September (complete with Lucifer and the apocalypse…on Supernatural; OK, so maybe I’m not just getting old as much as entering my second childhood as I join the ranks of the fangirls…).

Me, looking forward to fall…it’s just so wrong.

*sigh*

Hey, you kids—git off my lawn!

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